April 23, 2006
The relatively small (and large) cost of federal prisons
With thanks to Paul Caron for the tip, I checked out the interesting web site, Where Are My Taxes, where you can enter an amount paid in federal taxes and see where tax dollars go among dozens of federal agencies, departments, and programs.
The first thing you discover is that the bulk of federal tax dollars go to the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Treasury, and the Social Security Administration. Each of these departments receive at least 100 times more federal tax dollars than the entire (huge) federal prison system. These data highlight why prison cost concerns will never impact the federal criminal justice system (as it does in the states as recently documented here and here).
But perhaps equally interesting and telling is relative criminal justice spending in the federal system. According to the site, the federal government spends more than five times as much on prisons as it spends on a crime victims fund, and nearly 10 times as much on prisons as it spends on juvenile justice programs and violence against women prevention. Our tax dollars at work.
April 23, 2006 at 02:00 PM | Permalink
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I see there is $0 spent on drug treatment.
Posted by: Amy | Apr 23, 2006 3:19:15 PM
As a rule of thumb, criminal justice costs take up the largest percentage of local budgets, are usually the third or fourth largest aggregate cost item for state government (behind schools, healthcare, maybe transportation), and represent a piddling amount for federal budget writers by comparison to stuff like wars, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, highway port, and other big ticket items.
That's the reason all the anti-overincarceration arguments play pretty well in the states, but not really in Congress -- the further you get down the food chain it's a bigger share of your budget and the more you care about how much it costs to hire more cops, lock people up, pay for inmate healthcare, etc.
Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Apr 24, 2006 9:15:18 AM
Uh, that was supposed to be "highway pork," not "port."
Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Apr 24, 2006 10:35:35 AM
Now I do not expect to get anything back
Posted by: Sam | Apr 24, 2006 2:10:11 PM